Business investments affect people, the environment and society at large. It is important that these investments have a positive impact. For this reason, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Rabobank are introducing an impact loan to encourage Dutch business owners (SMEs and midcaps) to make sustainable investments. The first tranche will make an additional EUR 50 million available for loans with a positive social impact. Business owners who demonstrably display corporate social responsibility and wish to make new sustainable investments can apply for an impact loan with an interest discount of up to 1.2% for new loans. 

“The investments of the EIB are a tangible and effective contribution to the Dutch economy. It is in the interest of future generations that these investments are sustainable ones. Thanks to this impact loan, extra funds are made available for Dutch entrepreneurs and it’s now up to them to use them to their advantage, as well as to the advantage of man, environment and society.” said EIB Vice President Pim van Ballekom. “This is the first time that channels its support in the Netherlands specifically towards stimulating sustainable development in SMEs and mid-caps. In case the initiative is successful, we will definitely consider renewing it.”

Rewarding sustainable behaviour

‘A company that invests sustainably invests in more than only its own future. It also contributes to a world we can all live in, and that benefits people and the environment,’ adds Paul Dirken, Director of Businesses at Rabobank. The cooperative bank already has years of experience in encouraging sustainable development. ‘With this impact loan, which is a loan at a significant discount, we are the first major Dutch bank to financially reward our business clients for sustainable behaviour. Together with the EIB, we are applying our knowledge and experience to make it even more attractive for Dutch SME and midcap business operators to invest in sustainability. Currently, just over 5% of our business clients are pioneers with respect to sustainability. We expect the impact loan to lead more SME and midcap company owners to make the move to sustainable development with good and sustainable plans,’ added Dirken.


Applications for an impact loan will have to meet the normal conditions of the EIB and Rabobank. Businesses with up to 3,000 employees are eligible to apply. The loan is thus available to SME and midcap companies, as long as they wish to invest in sustainability and hold one of the 37 selected quality marks. The total investment may not exceed EUR 25 million, while the maximum amount to be borrowed is EUR 2.5 million.

Participating quality marks

The quality marks are selected on the basis of how businesses are monitored to ensure they meet and comply with the quality mark requirements. The selected quality marks set requirements that go further than the statutory requirements with respect to sustainability, in areas such as environmental impact, fair trade and animal welfare. Companies holding one or more of the following quality marks are eligible to apply for an impact loan:

ASC, Barometer Duurzaam Terreinbeheer, Barometer Duurzame Bloemist, Beter Leven, Blauwe Vlag (KVMK), BOVAG Erkend Duurzaam, BREEAM, Care & Fair, CO2-Prestatieladder, Cradle to Cradle (C2C), Demeter, Duurzaam Repareren, EKO, EKO-Holland, EU Ecolabel, Fair Flowers Fair Plants (FFFP), Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), FSC, Green Award, Green Key, GreenSeat, Keten Duurzaam Rundvlees, Keten Duurzaam Varkensvlees, Lean & Green, Made-By, Max Havelaar, Meer Met Minder (MMM), Metaalunie MVO-Monitor, Milieukeur, Milieuthermometer Zorg, MPS-ABC, MSC, MVO Koploper Netwerk, MVO Prestatieladder, Rainforest Alliance, Travelife Certified, Utz Certified.

Facts & figures

  • Rabobank is the largest bank in the Netherlands in green savings, investments and finance.
  • Rabobank’s total lending with a positive social impact (both in the Netherlands and abroad) amounts to over EUR 21 billion.
  • In 2014 the EIB provided financial support to the Netherlands with investments amounting to nearly EUR 2.2 billion
  • Sustainability is a priority for the EIB, as shown by its investment in areas including renewable energy and efficiency measures at companies.

Overview 37 selected quality marks [NL]